November 19, 2016

Imperial Brown Ale & Christmas American Brown Ale Partigyle Recipe

This brown ale partigyle recipe is one part using up ingredients in the house, one part experimenting and one part revisiting some things I haven't done in the past. All perfectly good reasons to brew up a couple tasty beers. Using a partigyle method I will take a single brown ale recipe and divide it between a small imperial brown ale that will enjoy a little oak-soaked rye whiskey and an American Brown Ale turned into a Christmas/holiday beer with the addition of cocoa nibs and vanilla. The imperial brown ale should hit its stride around the end of winter with the remaining bottles going into my cellar for future enjoyment. The smaller brown ale will be an immediate drinker through December and January.

As usual with my recipe posts I will walk through conceptualizing the recipe which I feel is at least useful for my own sake to remember how and why I designed the blending of gyles in this manner. I'll talk through the process I used to make torrified wheat and then get into the actual recipes for each beer.

Conceptualizing the Brown Ale Recipes

Right from the start I had divided ideas about brewing a holiday beer to use up some cocoa nibs and vanilla beans I have and brewing an imperial brown ale to use from oak-soaked rye I also have on hand. Brewing both beers at the same time in a partigyle seemed obvious. They are a natural fit for the technique. With plenty of roasted grain on hand I already had everything I needed to make a straightforward brown ale. 

Wanting to fit in an element of experimentation to the batch I elected to try making torrified wheat out of my nearly full pail of unmalted wheat. (This was described in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Zymurgy--I don't take credit for the idea.) I have spare popcorn poppers from my early days of coffee roasting and plenty of wheat. I originally had the wheat in the recipe to help along the body and felt like the recipe lacked a toasty element which torrified wheat will provide. Again a natural fit with the concept emerged.

Working out the partigyle brown ales

In my minimal experience with partigyle I have always sent all of the first runnings to the big beer and the sparge to the smaller beer. It's the easiest way to handle a big/small beer partigyle but here it didn't work. This would leave me with a hefty big beer well above what I would prefer and a small beer too thin for a holiday beer. This would be a fine option for a dry summer beer but not for this type of beer. It's not a good fit for any brown ale as it tends to make the roast elements come out too harshly. I would need to split up and reassemble the gyles into two composed worts.

Using Kai's excellent partigyle simulator I came up with three sets of runnings:

1st: 1.095SG 1.2 gal
2nd: 1.065 SG 0.5 gal
3rd: 1.022 SG 2.1 gal

With normal boil off assumptions the first runnings would deliver about a gallon of 1.113 beer, which is considerably higher than what I want. The small beer would run around 1.034 which is a little thin. To adjust I split up the first and third runnings between each beer with all of the second runnings going to the smaller beer. The adjustments worked out to:

Imperial Brown Ale - 1.1 gal, 1.095 (post-boil)

1st: 0.8 gal
2nd: 0 gal
3rd: 0.4 gal

American Brown Ale - 2.2 gal, 1.051 (post-boil)

1st: 0.4 gal
2nd: 0.5 gal
3rd: 1.7 gal

Not too much trouble to divide but a little more work. I realize this section is probably not interesting but I wanted to log my own thoughts for my own sake why I divided runnings like this. Moving on...

Making Torrified Wheat

This process was way easier than expected. This is nothing more than shoving grain into a popcorn popper for a couple minutes. The best kind of poppers for this (like coffee roasting) are poppers with horizontal slots that create a cyclone of hot air. The poppers with vertical vents want to blow the grain straight up and out of the popper. You can fix this by increasing the chimney (a soup can with the top and bottom cut off usually works) or putting a metal screen over the top. 

The trick here is balancing the volume of grain against the fan speed on the popcorn popper, which is something I learned from my days roasting coffee in a popper. Too much grain and there isn't enough circulation which causes burning on the bottom and underdevelopment on the top. Too little and the grain will fly around and there won't be enough heat retained to cause the grain to torrify. In a Poppery II with horizontal vents I found a happy medium around a third of a cup. 

All you have to do is flip on the popper to get the air flowing and then pour in the grain. It will whirl around and after two or three minutes you will get a good run of popping. When the popping dies down cut off the popper and let the grain sit for half a minute. It will continue to pop. Then dump it and let it cool. Simple. The longer you leave it in the popper the more toasted it will get so feel free to adjust for flavor preferences.

Wheat won't puff up like breakfast cereal without soaking in water first but that won't produce the toasty flavor of torrified wheat and seems dangerous with a popcorn popper. It will puff a little and split. Here are before and after pictures. You can see the grain hasn't changed too much but it is redder and a little puffy.

Before torrification

After torrification

Imperial Brown Ale & Christmas American Brown Ale Partigyle Recipe

Well now it's time to get into the recipes. Since this is an unusual process I have broken up the recipe into three sections. Part one is the combined recipe through sparge. Part two is the boil process for the imperial brown. Part three is the boil process and later additions for the Christmas portion.

Part 1: Through Sparge

Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pale malt44267.90%
Torrified wheat10216.00%
Crystal 60106010.10%
Chocolate malt33503.00%
Black patent35003.00%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Brown Malty
PH: 5.5
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Epsom Salt0.4g00.5g
Canning Salt0.3g0.4g
Baking Soda
Calcium Chloride0.5g0.7g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single Infusion at 152F
Mash volume: 1.95 gal
Sparge volume: 1st sparge 0.5g, 2nd 2.14 gal
Infuse 1.95 gal at 168F15260
Sparge 2.64 gal at 190F
Divide runnings into two separate beers according to division above

Part 2: Imperial Brown Ale - boil to fermentation

Batch Size: 1.1 gallon
Est. ABV: 9.7%
Est. IBU: 68
Est. OG: 1.095
Est. FG: 1.022
Est. SRM: 38

Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.45oz6068
EXP 41900.2ozWhirlpool0
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: 3470
Pitch 100ml
Pitch at 62F462F
Raise to 66F466F
Leave at ambient30Ambient
Bottle to 2.3 vol with 0.8 oz table sugar

Part 3: Christmas Brown Ale - Boil through fermentation

Batch Size: 2.1 gallon
Est. ABV: 5.1%
Est. IBU: 28
Est. OG: 1.051
Est. FG: 1.012
Est. SRM: 38

Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma [12%]0.25oz6028.5
EXP 41900.4ozWhirlpool0
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: 3470
Pitch 100ml
Pitch at 62F462F
Raise to 66F466F
Raise to ambient 8Ambient
Add vanilla and cocoa tincture at bottling
with 1.1 oz priming sugar for 1.9 vol

Vanilla and Cocoa Nibs Preparation

Add half grade B vanilla pod to smallest amount of vodka to soak on brewday. Add 0.8 oz cocoa nibs per gallon (1.6oz total) four days before bottling. Strain and add tincture to bottling bucket.

Brewday and Fermentation Notes

1st: 1.080          1.01 gal
2nd: 1.056         0.43 gal
3rd: 1.023          2.37 gal

Volumes and gravities came out a little off. Adjusted ratios to loosely account for it. Pulled 0.3 gal from first runnings to small beer and kept 0.4 gal from third runnings into big beer.

Imperial brown ale:

1.1 gallons
1.079 post-boil

American Brown ale:

2.25 gallons
1.038 post-boil

Had to top up both batches with extra water to get to volume. Had a lot of boil off.

Initial tastes promising. Interesting toast/orange marmalade flavors. Perhaps EXP4210 has finally found a good home?

Opted for bourbon over vodka for the vanilla/cocoa nibs. Added 1 1/2 Mexican vanilla pods to approximately one ounce of bourbon on brewday.

Vigorous fermentation from both beers within twenty-four hours.

11.25.16: Added 1.6 oz (by weight) of cocoa nibs. Topped up bourbon/vanilla to cover nibs in jar. Will bottle in four days.

11.29.16: Bottled 2.25 gallons with 1.5 oz table sugar for 2.1 volumes of CO2. Taste is promising. Chocolate flavor is creamy milk chocolate.